As everyone around the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, many are under shelter-in-place, lockdown or stay-at-home orders. Regardless of place or current regulations, many people are spending a lot of time at home. In response to this new free time, I decided to jump on the bandwagon of other TV writers and make a list of the absolute best TV I can recommend.
In making this list, I wanted to include a variety of options — including my favorite shows of all time, shows that I think will help pass the time by serving as a distraction and also shows I’ve been loving recently. As the TV columnist, I’m clearly biased, but I truly feel that immersing yourself in a great story can be a comfort in strange times.
(This list doesn’t include what is probably the most recommended show of the moment — “Tiger King” — but I think I have some really great options.)
“Gilmore Girls” (Netflix)
“Gilmore Girls” has always been one of my all-time favorites. I have been known to quote random episodes, make references to the show in relation to any event happening in my life and spend a lot of time and effort trying to be just like Rory. My obsession aside, “Gilmore Girls” is a classic show that has many wholesome moments and a great cast of characters that can take your mind off any loneliness you may be experiencing. Plus, Rory’s love for studying has been motivating me to finish all my online schoolwork.
“Sex Education” (Netflix)
Earlier this semester, I wrote a column about the powerful storyline featured in the second season of Netflix’s “Sex Education.” The show has rich and dynamic characters that are easy to become attached to, each with their own well-written and complicated story arcs. It’s a quicker watch with only two seasons, but it’s perfect for anyone looking for an impactful show with great humor and aesthetics.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s work has been a staple of the TSL TV column this year, with articles about “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve” published last semester, and my addition of a “Fleabag” couple in the TV couples ranking I wrote earlier this semester. At the risk of sounding too cliché, if you aren’t watching “Fleabag,” you should be. It has a very specific sense of humor and is insanely beautiful and profound at the same time.
“Mad Men” (Netflix)
“Mad Men” has been a part of my TV journey for as long as I can remember, even though I have failed in most of my attempts to start watching it. The rest of my family has seen most of it, and it’s my brother’s favorite show of all time. He is currently going through another rewatch and I’ve been watching it along with him. The show seems boring and slow in the beginning, which is why it was hard for me to get through, but staying at home is the best time to watch it and get past the initial boredom to an incredibly well-written show. It follows an advertising agency in the 1960s, and as the show develops, it incorporates historical events of the time period that make the show more interesting and compelling.
For a modern-day “Mad Men” kind of show, I highly recommend HBO’s “Succession.” It follows a family of insanely rich people and is one of the most unexpectedly funny shows I have ever seen. The dialogue is so well-written and the characters are begging for some in-depth psychoanalysis — both of which are qualities that make me obsess over it. The characters get themselves into pretty wild situations and it’s always entertaining. Also, HBO is streaming some of their shows for free right now, so now is the perfect time to start watching it.
“Schitt’s Creek” (Netflix)
“Schitt’s Creek” is another longtime favorite of this column, and I can’t recommend it enough now. It’s one of the most endearing and hilarious shows I have seen, with lovable characters and character development that will have you invested from the very beginning. The show is all about making the most of a situation and personal growth, which I think is very applicable to our present situation.
Another great way to take advantage of HBO’s free streaming is by starting another one of their best shows: “Barry.” I wrote about “Barry” last semester, and maintain that it is a very well-done show that has solidified my love for Bill Hader’s acting range. The titular character, played by Hader, is dealing with wanting to pursue his newfound dream of becoming an actor while having to quit his current job as an assassin. Unfortunately, the production on a new season has been delayed, but now is still a great time to get caught up.
“I Am Not Okay with This” (Netflix)
This is a quick watch on Netflix that could easily be watched in just one day. Based on a comic book by Charles Forsman, it’s a great mashup of the horror film “Carrie,” “Stranger Things” and “The End of the F***ing World” (Forsman also penned the “TEOTFW” comic). “I Am Not Okay with This” is a heartwarming look at teenagers and the struggles of adolescence, with a bit of the supernatural thrown in for added drama.
This is the only non-fiction show on this list, since I still refuse to list “Tiger King” as a recommendation. “Cheer” was released at the beginning of this year but has quickly become highly recommended, and its cast of cheerleaders has skyrocketed to influencer-level fame. It’s a documentary series about one of the best cheer teams from a junior college in Texas, and the amount of talent and dedication the cheerleaders have is simply incredible to watch. Plus, the show does a great job of showing how integral cheerleading is to everyone involved. P.S.: I can almost guarantee you’ll watch it quickly just to see what happens in Daytona.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Hulu)
This recommendation is probably a given, as I’m sure that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is widely popular and many people have already seen it. However, if you haven’t seen it, or any of Mike Schur’s other comedies, I can’t recommend it enough. I think it’s the show I have recommended the most and I will continue to do so. It’s consistently funny and has dynamic characters that are all given equal storylines and arcs.
I hope that any of these shows and recommendations prove helpful to pass the time or provide a sense of joy amidst this scary situation. Watching something I love has always been a way for me to feel better about something, so hopefully watching the shows on this list can do the same for you.
Claire DuMont SC ’23 is one of TSL’s TV columnists. She is from Manhattan Beach, California and loves her dogs, cats and talking about TV (obviously). During quarantine, she has started watching “Derry Girls.”